In 2009, I saw the band Phoenix at the original RecordBar in Westport, back in the dying days of MySpace, which had sponsored that free, sold-out show. The club was packed from wall to wall, and it appeared obvious that Phoenix had become too popular for shows at venues that size. When the band played in Kansas City a year later, it sold out the much larger Uptown Theater, as expected.
Some of the best shows are those when you catch a band just before it jumps the divide from clubs to theaters. I got the same feeling Tuesday night at the new RecordBar while observing Coin, a pop band from Nashville comprising four guys who became friends while studying music at Belmont University.
The show had been sold out for weeks; by the time the doors opened, the line outside stretched a block long, most of it populated by patrons too young to legally drink alcohol (it was an 18-and-older show). Once the show started, it didn’t take long to figure out why this band resonates with pre- and post-20-somethings.
Coin’s Nashville roots felt incongruous at first: They had nothing in common with country music, modern or otherwise. But the band’s affiliation with Music City eventually made some sense. Coin knows plenty about crafting songs that are spit-shined and gift-wrapped for radio airplay, songs that arouse loud and emphatic singalongs. Lyrically, they address the politics of relationships, from casual sex to love, romance and broken commitments.
The band has two albums in its catalog, a self-titled full-length released in June 2015 and its latest, “How Will You Know If You Never Try,” released in April. That worthwhile aphorism was displayed prominently onstage, emblazoned on what was a screen that broadcast graphic images throughout the nearly 70-minute show.
Most of the crowd of 400 or so seemed to know the lyrics to all 15 songs on the set list, starting with the opener, “Feeling,” which, like everything that followed, was a brash blend of groovy and melodic indie-pop/rock and synth-pop with an occasional dash of emo.
There is some sophistication in their songcraft: pre-choruses and bridges are common, as are clever chord progressions. Imagine a blend of the Killers and the Bravery and you’ll have an idea of Coin’s relentlessly catchy sound.
Occasionally, they swerve into Coldplay territory, as in “It’s a Trap.” Other times, they flirt with pop-metal, as in “Run,” a galloping dance-rock number with gang vocals that prompted one of many boisterous singalongs.
“Miranda Beach,” another highlight, flashed a hint of glam-rock. They can slow it down, too, as they did during “Malibu 1992,” which started as an ethereal ballad before climaxing with a frenzied finish.
Coin is led by singer Chase Lawrence, whose impressive mane of curly hair resembles that of Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. When he wasn’t fortifying songs via a synth, Lawrence was flouncing and bouncing and head-banging about the stage, keeping the energy needle in the red all night.
Before they ended with “Fingers Crossed,” Lawrence, sounding genuinely impressed with the crowd’s size and enthusiasm, thanked everyone for the rousing welcome. It was Coin’s first performance in Kansas City, he said, then promised it wouldn’t be its last. It’s likely, however, that its next performance will be in a much larger venue before a much bigger crowd.
Feeling; Atlas; Holy Ghost; I Don’t Wanna Dance; Time Machine; Are We Alone?; Don’t Cry, 2020; I Would; It’s a Trap; Run; Boyfriend; Miranda Beach; Malibu 1992; Talk Too Much; Fingers Crossed.